Monday, September 10, 2012

Book #254: My Garden by Kevin Henkes

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The young girl in this book loves to help in her mother’s garden by watering and weeding. She thinks her mother’s garden is very nice, but if she had a garden of her own it would be very different. The flowers would change colors and never stop blooming. The weeds would be nonexistent and the rabbits wouldn’t eat the lettuce because they would be chocolate rabbits! And the girl would be able to plant all sorts of things, like jelly beans and seashells, and they would grow. Although the girl knows this garden is just in her head, at the end of the day she plants a seashell in her mother’s garden. Who knows what will happen?

The size of the font, as well as the slightly larger than usual book size, make this a great choice for storytime. The layout of the book, with text on the left page and illustrations on the right, makes it easy for children to distinguish text from pictures. The action-oriented text is brief, but full of wonderful descriptors. The watercolor and ink illustrations clearly show the ideas presented in the text. The garden is a riot of pastel and faded primary colors and each picture is brought to life because it features the little girl interacting with the garden.

Ask the kids what kind of plants they would grow in their garden. The little girl mentions growing umbrellas, old keys, and buttons. What else would you add to the list? Have them draw pictures of these plants.

Use this book for a storytime about gardens and growing and pair it with books like, The Curious Garden, Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? or Grandpa GreenTry rhymes like I Dig, Dig, Dig and Round and Round the Garden.

Play or sing songs about gardens. I love The Garden Song/Inch by Inch (skip to 0:40 for the song). It can be a nice one to play on uke or guitar. Try Charlotte Diamond’s Each of Us is a Flower (skip to 1:13 to hear the song). I found also the lyrics in Spanish, French, and ASL. Both songs have simple tunes that are easy to learn and can be paired with movements or gestures. 

There are an endless number of flower crafts out there. Here are a few of my favorites: Tissue paper flowers, muffin liner flowers, giant paper plate sunflowers, newspaper flowers, paper flower murals, and cookie cutter prints. Also check out Henkes' website. It has a link to the activity guide published by Greenwillow that features two printable sheets for kids.


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